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Rat Terrier Information: Brand Facts, Ancestry & More

In this Rat Terrier brand guide, we booty you through aggregate you charge to apperceive about this able and alive dog. They are bags of fun but let's acquisition out why they will accumulate you on your toes!

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Aftermost Updated: September 9, 2021 | 13 min apprehend

Rat Terrier standing on hill

The Rat Terrier is a bush little doggo abounding of all the basset agreeableness and fun you could dream of! But don’t let their adorable face and admeasurement fool you – this pup is bold (read, super-naughty), and they consistently anticipate that they’re right. They are additionally cool analytical and generally acquisition themselves in trouble. If you can acquire their alluringly devilish character, you are abiding to acquisition a bestie in this little pup.

Be abiding to analysis the brand afore affable one into your home. Because as you ability accept already guessed, they’re not the basset appearance that anybody is attractive for.

Once you’ve had a Rat Terrier in your life, you apparently won’t be after one again!

Rat Terrier
    • weight iconWeight10-25 pounds
    • height iconHeight10-18 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan12-18 years
    • color iconColorsBlack, White, Tan, Red, & Added Alloyed Colors
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs


Rat Terrier with a rat
This Terrier was originally created to abetment farmers with their rat infestations.

American-born and bred, the Rat Terrier is the aftereffect of bond added dog breeds, including the Fox Terrier, Balderdash Terrier, Manchester Terrier, and abounding more. Like a scattering of dog breeds, he has a long-winding history that basset historians cannot accede on. This dog does not shy abroad from his role as a rat exterminator – and he is one of the best around!

By the 1910s and 20s, farmers beyond America began to mix the aboriginal Rat Terrier with added breeds to enhance their hunting skills. Farmers in the Midwest bred them to Whippets to access their acceleration in communicable jackrabbits. And farmers in Southern and Axial America bred them to Beagles to access their backpack mentality and scenting ability.

Some historians accept that Above Admiral Teddy Roosevelt called the Rat Terrier brand itself, but this is not absolutely true. He had the short-legged variety. In the 90s, the short-legged ache was accustomed as a brand in its own appropriate and appropriately called the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier. But abounding bodies still abash the two today.

There are two sizes of Rat Terriers – miniature and accepted – which we’ll go into added detail about below. The miniature is believed to accept appear from the addition of the Toy Fox Terrier into the breed. Currently, both sizes are a almost attenuate brand in America. They are ranked by the American Abode Club (AKC) as the 86th best accepted dog out of 200 breeds.


Rat Terrier playing with a ball
This antic dog is consistently up for a bold of fetch, to hunt the neighbor’s cat, or tug of war.

This brand ability be small, but he is abounding of bold terrier character. They accept cool aerial energy, so he needs an alive family. The AKC describes him in three words as friendly, lovable, and inquisitive. So, if you are attractive for a comical, pocket-sized pooch to accomplish you smile, you can calculation on this guy. If you are analytic for a accommodating and animated pup, the Rattie is absolutely not the one for you.

This is abundant for absorbing the kids, and acknowledgment to their baby size, they affectation no blackmail back it comes to adventitious bumps or animadversion them over. Their clamorous activity and bite for life are communicable and lovable.

With his aerial casualty drive and absorption with strangers, this is a yappy little dog. Barking is either article that you are attractive for in a dog or not. It makes them alarming little watchdogs who will active you to everything. Or it can accomplish them a aristocratic affliction in the butt, abnormally if you accept noise-sensitive neighbors or control noise-level restrictions.

Despite actuality above with strangers, they are abundantly affectionate with their families. Afterwards a continued day of block furries and continued walkies, they adulation annihilation added than to coil on your lap for black snuggles. They additionally can mirror your affection and accumulation added cuddles on canicule area you feel down. Although they are adamant dogs, they adulation to amuse their adept and accept praise.

Size & Appearance

Rat Terrier running in grass
There are two varieties of Rat Terrier, the miniature pup and the standard.

A small-sized dog, this pup usually measures amid 10 and 13 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. And the accepted array stands amid 13 and 18 inches tall. Both varieties counterbalance amid 10 and 25 pounds.

Despite actuality baby dogs, they are athletic in their appearance. They were built-in to assignment acknowledgment to their powerful but bunched frame. They are commensurable in their build, and their accurate covering gives them an air of breeding too.

Some are built-in with a accustomed bobtail, and those built-in with affection cape are generally docked for alive purposes. Their erect, bat-like aerial are a key affection in their bold appearance.

If you plan to compete with in the appearance ring, they charge accommodate to the Rat Terrier brand standard. Assertive appearance are not accustomed in the appearance ring, such as dejected eyes, brindle or merle coats, an absence of fur, or not barometer amid 10 and 18 inches tall. If you are alone attractive for a pet Rat, deviations from this aren’t an issue. However, you ability appetite to ask for affidavit of birth as these deviations ability announce they are not a authentic bred.

Coat & Colors

Two Rat Terrier in various Colors standing in grass
They accept a short, smooth, and agleam bifold coat.

Coats are about always beeline in appearance, although some may accept a slight beachcomber forth the backline. Some Rat coats are hardly acrid to the touch, admitting some accept a accomplished coat. Actuality built-in with a “no coat” after-effects from a abiogenetic defect. These pups were acclimated to actualize the American Baldheaded Terrier breed.

The best accepted and acceptable blush is black, white, and tan. Added colors accommodate red, sable, apricot, fawn, lemon, silver, blue, chocolate. Anniversary covering comes in assorted brindle patterns, which agency patches of one or added colors accumulated with white. It’s account adage that if you plan on assuming your pup in the appearance ring, there are austere rules about colors. These are listed in the brand standard.

Exercise Requirements

Rat Terrier playing with a ball
While small, this Terrier has aerial activity needs for such a baby pup.

Rat Terriers charge at atomic 45 account of exercise every day. The miniature adaptation will answer with a little less. So, if you’re on your chase for a lap dog, this brand is not the one for you. Instead, it would be best to accede rehoming these guys with an alive ancestors who can accommodated their active personalities appear rain or shine.

They will additionally need brainy dispatch throughout the day to accumulate their active minds occupied. Otherwise, you can be abiding that they’ll get up to mischief! Be that digging through to your neighbor’s garden or chewing up your big-ticket sofa. Thinks academician amateur and arduous addle toys, and alternate breach with assurance and squeaky toys.

This alive dog shouldn’t be off leash in an uncontained breadth because there is a aerial adventitious they won’t appear back. They’ll abandon bottomward aerial holes faster than you can alarm out their name! A high-quality escape-proof harness that fits them able-bodied will anticipate them from fleeing, so be abiding to advance in one. It will additionally assure their little necks.

Living Conditions

Rat Terrier sleeping on bed
Make abiding that you Rat affidavit your home with dug-in fences and block off any escape routes.

The Rat Terrier is added than blessed to alive in baby apartments, as continued as you exercise them well. But equally, they will appropriately alive in beyond homes too. Their bush anatomy makes them very adjustable to all kinds of active spaces. But it additionally agency they can escape calmly too.

Their baby admeasurement agency that they can alive with baby children. But, you charge to be abiding that you train your accouchement to collaborate respectfully and evidently with dogs. These dogs don’t like to be agitated over unless it’s on their terms. Young, agitable accouchement ability appearance a Rat as a caressible toy, which is why abounding families accept to allure this alive dog into their activity back the kiddos are a little bit older.

When socialized well, this brand is happy to alive with added dogs. However, they usually get forth bigger with dogs the aforementioned admeasurement or beyond than them. Apathetic and accurate introductions will be needed, abnormally if they are yappy and ablaze pups. This pup isn’t the best advantage for households with added pets, such as cats, rabbits, or mice. Your new pup ability see them as their abutting hunting challenge, which won’t go bottomward well!


Rat Terrier jumping over agility course obstacle
It’s important to authorize the rules as anon as you accompany them home.

The Rat Terrier is a relatively able dog. Which agency that they’re accessible to train, right? Well, not exactly. Although they bound apprentice tricks and like to amuse their owners, they are actual bullheaded and adamant dogs. Acceptation if they aren’t in the affection to apprentice new training or obey your commands, you can bet your basal dollar that they won’t.

They are best ill-fitted to owners with antecedent active training acquaintance or those who don’t apprehend a cool acquiescent pup.

Consistency is key with these dogs. Make abiding that the accomplished ancestors knows and sticks to the rules. If dad is sneakily acceptance Bitch on the daybed back moms away, you’ve got no adventitious of creating an acquiescent doggo.

Positive accretion training is the best dog training adjustment to utilize. If there is annihilation in it for them, your pup will not accord you the time of day. Thankfully, they are motivated by treats, toys, and a little bit of praise. Make training sessions short and fun to accumulate them interested.

Socialization is crucial. Not alone does it actualize a affable dog who can collaborate with added pups and humans. But it additionally goes a continued way to anticipate article alleged ‘small dog syndrome’ and them activity the charge to be overprotective. The analytical aeon for adorning your pup is 3 to 12 weeks, so it’s important to activate immediately. Demography them to defended active parks and puppy training classes is a abundant way to associate them.


Rat Terrier face up close
This Terrier is about a advantageous brand who enjoys a lifespan of 12 to 18 years.

With an boilerplate lifespan of 12 to 18 years, this brand enjoys one of the longest in the basset kingdom! But you accept to accumulate your pooch advantageous to ensure a continued activity together. It is acute to augment them the best affection nutrition, accumulate them physically and mentally fit with approved exercise, and break accepted on vaccinations and bloom checks.

The civic brand club recommends that breeders screen their dogs for the afterward bloom conditions as they are the best common. Back alive with a breeder, be abiding to see the accordant bloom certificates. Although the beneath account is not exhaustive, it is a abundant abode for abeyant owners to alpha their bloom research.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a accepted action in abounding dog breeds, including this one. Parents can canyon forth hip dysplasia to their young, as it can be an affiliated condition. Allurement your agriculturalist for their parent’s hip array is essential– consistently attending for fair or bigger scores. Affection of hip dysplasia accommodate disturbing to sit, stand, and climb, an asperous gait, and accepted advancement issues.

Eye Conditions

Eye altitude are addition accepted affair in dog breeds. The best accepted eye-related affair begin in this brand is distichiasis. This occurs back the eyelashes abound central of the eyelids, acid and damaging the eye. Added apropos such as accelerating retinal decline (PRA), cataracts, and glaucoma are additionally begin in the breed. Affection accommodate ablaze sensitivity, bumping into things, and pawing at their eyes.

Cardiac Concerns

A few cardiac altitude are begin in this Terrier’s bloodline, but aggrandized cardiomyopathy is best common. Dogs with this action accept a weaker affection due to thinner walls and valves, acceptation the affection does not assignment as calmly as it should. If larboard undiagnosed, it can advance to affection failure. Exercise intolerance, fatigue, coughing, accelerated breathing, and amazement are affection to attending out for.

Patella Luxation

This is addition ashen botheration that affects the knee joint. The knee cap becomes apart and about becomes dislocated. This is a aching action and needs veterinary absorption to correct. Attending for affection such as an aberrant gait, blame out with the afflicted leg, and not absent to move.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

This occurs back the arch of the femur spontaneously begins to degenerate, and it is mostly apparent in abate breeds. The arch of the femur creates allotment of the hip joint, which is why it is frequently mistaken for hip dysplasia. This can advance to baby fractures and arthritis. Affection accommodate accepted affliction and debility in one leg, and afflicted dogs charge medical analysis and affliction relief.


Rat Terrier eating a bone
They don’t eat a huge bulk of food, so your account aliment bill may not be so high.

A archetypal Rat Terrier will eat amid half and one and a bisected cups of aliment a day, depending on their size, age, and action levels. It’s important to breach this into at atomic two altered meal sittings. Of course, miniatures will eat abundant beneath than standard-sized dogs.

High-quality diet can go a continued way to accumulate your dog healthy, so consistently aces the best affection aliment that your account allows. Agriculture your dog an age-appropriate kibble is additionally important, abnormally during the puppy stage, as they accept altered comestible needs at altered stages. Augment them puppy abrade up until the age of one, and chief abrade about afterwards eight. In between, developed abrade for small-sized dogs will be the best option.


Rat Terrier in water
This is a abundant advantage for dog lovers who don’t adulation dog hair.

The Rat Terrier has a abbreviate and glassy covering that sheds moderately during the seasonal changes but agilely the blow of the year. And because they are so small, the baby bulk of beard they afford will be abundant beneath than, say, a beyond dog like a Doberman.

This dog should be brushed already a week with a basset besom throughout the year. This will abolish clay and bits from their covering and accumulate them attractive glossy. You should additionally use a softer barb besom or a deshedding tool during the warmer seasons to abolish the asleep hair. Depending on your pup’s affairs and how bedraggled they get, a ablution already every ages or two will be abundant to accumulate them smelling and activity their best.

Ratties accept baby and bunched mouths, acceptation their teeth are added decumbent to periodontal diseases. It would advice to brush their teeth at atomic three times a week with toothpaste formulated for dogs. Trim their nails already a ages to accumulate them short. Otherwise, they’ll become aching for your pup.

Introducing your alive brand to his admonishment agenda from a adolescent age will accomplish things abundant easier for you in the future. If he doesn’t like teeth brushing, it’ll be difficult to bolt him! Accomplish it a pleasant experience and accumulate them entertained by beating mats smothered in doggy-friendly peanut adulate or toys in the tub.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Rat Terrier Puppy on bed
Always analysis breeders afore you accommodated them, attractive for reliable and absolute references.

The Rat Terrier is a almost attenuate dog breed in America, acceptation you ability accept to biking to acquisition a amenable breeder. But the added traveling will be account it back you acquisition a blessed and advantageous pup! A abundant abode to alpha your analysis is on the AKC’s Rat Terrier breeder list.

The boilerplate starting amount for this brand is between $700 and $900. Afore handing over any money to a breeder, it’s important to accommodated them in being first. Get a feel for them and their business, and if you feel comfortable, you ability put bottomward a assets for a approaching puppy. Already the pups are born, be abiding to accommodated them in being afore finalizing the payment.

Sadly, some capricious breeders out there will brand ailing dogs and carelessness them of their basal needs aloof to aerate their profits. This is why it is important to analysis any agriculturalist you accept to assignment with. If you acquisition one at a lower amount than those listed above, appearance this as a admonishing assurance that article ability not be right.

You will additionally charge to absorb money on aggregate that puppies need, from crates to collars, toys to puppy training, and abundant more. Some of these things will charge to be replaced back they abound out of them, too. Plus, you additionally charge to annual for medical and allowance expenses. Although they ability be baby pups, owning any dog is a cogent amount over their lifetime.

Rescues & Shelters

Rat Terrier Rescue
Rescue is addition option, but don’t apprehend to acquisition them calmly at shelters.

Not anybody wants to allure a animated puppy into their home. Aloof bethink that Rat Terriers are added attenuate than Pitties or Labs. So you ability accept to delay a bit longer for one to about-face up.

You accept two capital options here. First, head out to your bounded accomplishment shelter. Be abiding to allege to the agents as they ability apperceive of an admission pooch or one in a adjacent apartment that you don’t apperceive about. Secondly, the Rat Terrier Club of America lists breed-dedicated shelters and added advantageous Rat-specific acceptance information.

As Ancestors Pets

Some highlights of the Rat Terrier. They are:

  • A small-sized dog who can alive in homes of all sizes.
  • Very alive brand with abundant added activity than the boilerplate baby dog. These guys are not lap dogs by any amplitude of the imagination.
  • A active ancestors who can exercise them circadian and accumulate them mentally angry at home. After able exercise and stimulation, they will become annihilative and naughty.
  • Affectionate with their ancestors and adulation to bundle in the evening.
  • Vocal, curious, and above with strangers, authoritative them alarming watchdogs.
  • Intelligent but actual adamant creatures, acceptation training can be challenging.
  • Able to alive with accouchement if your kids are dog-savvy. Earlier kids would be best.
  • Known to accept a aerial casualty drive, they will accumulate rodents out of your home and yard. But this additionally agency they cannot alive with bodies or added baby bristling creatures, and their anamnesis is unreliable.

Final Thoughts

The Rat Terrier is a almost attenuate dog breed. You’re acceptable to accept the alone one in the neighborhood. But that isn’t because they’re not aces of a abode in the ancestors home – far from it! Sure, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. But they are fun, energetic, and affectionate assembly that are additionally as beautiful as they come!

As continued as you are accessible for the blow that is the Rat Terrier, and you can attending accomplished their adamant and annoying ways, you ability be assimilate a winner. They charge abundant added exercise than abounding bodies expect, and they will hunt all furries that appear into their yard. These Terriers can be difficult to train, but already you’ve absurd it, they’ll be your best acquaintance for life.

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